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A US website that’s apparently launching a UK version in August and is poaching loads of top journos. David Ornstein rumoured to be the latest to quit the BBC and join them. Wonder if Pearce is going there too?





An American Sports Website Is On A Hiring Spree For Some Of Britain's Top Football Writers


A US sports website has launched a “super-aggressive” hiring spree for Britain’s most famous football writers, with multiple sources claiming the website has already "gutted" the Times sports team.


It’s understood that the Athletic, which only last week announced an ambitious plan to launch in the UK, has already poached Times sports editor Alex Kay-Jelski and the Independent’s sports editor Ed Maylon.


When Kay-Jelski told Times management he’d be leaving the newspaper, two sources say, the editor was “frog-marched” from the newsroom with only a short email sent to the rest of the sports team.


Multiple sources claimed that three other senior Times journalists are in advanced talks to join Kay-Jelski at the new UK edition of the US-based outfit, including the newspaper’s chief football correspondent, Oliver Kay, and northern football correspondent George Caulkin.


Asked on Monday evening whether he’d be leaving the Times after 17 years, Kay declined to comment. The Times and Caulkin did not return requests for comment.


The Athletic's hiring spree, and its aggressive approaches regarding “star writers” at Britain's top newspapers, have become the hottest topic of conversation among the country's sports journalists. One well-known football writer told BuzzFeed News that journalists are "talking of little else".


"[The Athletic has] offered old journalism money, signing-on fees, comp schemes, equity," the writer told BuzzFeed News. "They have been super aggressive … they have gutted the Times.”


Last week, Digiday reported that the subscription-based sports website would launchin the UK in August with a team of up to 55 writers focusing on Premier League football.


Set up in 2016, the Athletic is a website and app that specialises in local sportswriting and reporting from what it describes as "all-star writers".


Its model is based on the idea of giving diehard sports fans from a particular city in-depth sports coverage about the teams from that area.


For example, a subscriber from Chicago, where the website was founded, would get specialised writing about the Chicago Bears (NFL), Bulls (NBA), Cubs (MLB), and White Sox (MLB).


It made headlines last year for similar recruitment of well-established sports journalists in the United States, which led the New York Times to say the website was aiming to become a "Netflix-like" solution to the decline of local sports coverage.


Another source said the website had been trying, but not yet been successful, in hiring Guardian sportswriter Barney Ronay and Independent chief sportswriter Jonathan Liew.


"However, (the Athletic) are not taking 'no' for an answer," the source said. Ronay confirmed he’d been approached by the website but was staying at the Guardian.


A spokesperson for the Athletic declined to discuss specific names but released a statement to BuzzFeed News about its hiring spree, saying that it would be giving details closer to the start of the new Premier League season.


"We are looking forward to launching the Athletic's written, audio, and video journalism in the UK,” the spokesperson said. “This is the home of the world's most popular football league, of a wealth of brilliant writers, and of fans with an insatiable appetite for coverage of their teams.


“The Athletic is building a lineup of the most talented and connected football journalists, and our ambitious plans include not only comprehensive coverage of every Premier League club but also highly localised football reporting beyond the top flight. More details will be released as the new season approaches."


Speaking to Digiday last week, the Athletic's chief of staff, Akhil Nambiar, said "a lot of writers have come from the world of clicks," but the website would focus on giving readers the "context" around sport.


“This is not an extension of the US; this is about how to empower our writers for a UK audience,” said Nambiar, with Digiday suggesting that the Athletic's current subscription fee of £40 per year would be about the same for UK readers when the website launched later this year.


Like many of the new digital news companies that have emerged in recent years, the Athletic has raised significant amounts of money from venture capital companies — in the same Digiday report it is claimed that the website has raised £79 million.


But some are not convinced that the Athletic’s model of “hyper-local journalism,” combined with its big-name hires, will work in the UK football journalism market.


“They’re appointing a slew of national writers, which would create a hierarchical problem,” one industry insider said. “For instance, if you take the chief football writer from every broadsheet, which one of them gets to cover the Champions League final?”

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Looks like they are mski g a big push world wide. Just seen a load of former Saints beats reporters that left local news stations for ESPN in the past few years are back in New Orleans covering the Sai ts for them. 



Sounds interesting

Not enough good sports reporting these days. 

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A bit more info here. 


Sports subscription publisher The Athletic has pinpointed the U.K. for its first overseas hub. The direct-to-consumer media company plans to hire a U.K. team of between 50 and 55, mostly writers, ahead of a mid-August launch.


The U.K. editorial team will focus initially on football, particularly Premier League teams, but will expand to cover more sports in time. Similar to its hyper-local model in the U.S. and Canada, where it covers 50 different regions, writers will be located beyond London.


“This is not an extension of the U.S.; this is about how to empower our writers for a U.K. audience,” said Akhil Nambiar, chief of staff at The Athletic.


The Athletic is premised on going beyond the typical sports reporting found in newspapers. Typical stories include an oral history of [Toronto Raptors basketball player] Kawhi Leonard’s college days or this on the secrets of a college football signal stealer.


According to Nambiar, there’s already a small paying U.K. cohort plus a U.S. appetite for more local football content, making the U.K. a natural next step. In the last six months, the most-read article has been this piece on Italian football club Reggiana Audace, currently in Italy’s fourth league, which was read by over a 100,000 people in a week.


Subscribers last year were 100,000, now “well over” but still in the low hundreds of thousands, according to Patterson. The Athletic said that 89% of its subscriber base interacts with its app each week. Also, its annual retention rate is an impressive 90%. 


The Athletic currently charges $9.99 (£7.86) per month or $50 (£39.35) per year and doesn’t serve ads. Rates will be similar in the U.K., and subscribers will have access to all content created in the U.S. and vice versa. This is currently around 1,200 stories a week. The U.S. has recently expanded into podcasts and video, and aims to expand these to the U.K.


Backed by over $100 million (£78.7 million) in funding, the media company is an attractive bet for investors for its avid fan base and recurring revenue from audiences, which typically attract higher values than ad-funded media businesses. Patterson added that most of its early markets in the U.S. are profitable and the business is healthy.


Funding has helped boost its growth. In the U.S. The Athletic has grown to nearly 400 full-time writers, who each have equity in the business. In the last year, it’s grown from having a presence in 20 to 50 different regions.


However, brand awareness is low in the U.K., and the media landscape is already cluttered, particularly in sports. Several media companies have also made more concerted efforts to tap into the growing interest in women’s sports — in the U.K. and the U.S. Yet there could still be space for a new entrant with the combination of a passionate fan base, differentiated content and a non-ad-funded business model, according to analysts.


“Their service is differentiated from match report-centered newspaper coverage with a focus on investigations and analysis, such as the economics of teams, drug-use and other sports news stories, said Douglas McCabe, CEO at Enders Analysis.


In the U.S. it has hired well-known sports journalists who have pulled their audiences with them, and plans to do the same in the U.K. To keep growing beyond the highly engaged sports fan, it will draw on its insights team to work out what type of content encourages people to sign up and convert.


Nambiar leads an analytics team of three people who mine popular past stories, measured by frequency of visits, regularity and time spent, and articles that lead to subscriber conversion spikes. For instance, before the National Hockey League’s trade deadline a popular piece outlined all the possible moves that a team could make. The team encouraged writers across other leagues to adapt and expand this idea to their coverage.


“We give context and guidance,” he said. “A lot of writers have come from the world of clicks, we aim to give context around what are stories people love. Editors have a great instinct, we show them what is working.”

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5 minutes ago, Captain Turdseye said:

Some talk on Twitter that Dave and the rest of TLW writing team are raising membership prices here to compete with these new kids on the block.  

Are you the one doing the talking? If you are,keep listening for that phone call.

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10 minutes ago, TheRedMachine said:

Probably common knowledge now, but Pearce has gone there. Was drinking with him in Madrid and he told us he was off.

No need to boast, mate. As I said to Noel Gallagher on Phil Collins’ yacht the last day, I’ve no time for namedroppers. 

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It will fall flat on its arse.  The football media market is absolutely saturated.  Every newspaper or news site has got a football section, every single professional club having its own forum never mind each premier club having numerous and everything is basically free.  This isn’t even mentioning twitter. 


It looks like another case of idiot American “businessmen” thinking they’re clever and deciding it’s time to make money with England’s obsession with football.  They clearly don’t realise that all these fellas they’re hiring aren’t experts or enlightening fans around the country with their articles week in week out.  They’re just the lucky ones who are in the boys club.  There are probably a hundred people on this website alone who could have done Pearce’s job and that’s not to slag him off.  There’s just not a lot to it.


The only person’s content I’ve ever paid to read is Dave’s.  I imagine the majority of people out there haven’t ever paid or will pay to read anyone’s.

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Really not sure how this can possibly work without adverts long term. £40 per year, even with 200,000 UK subscribers (which seems seriously generous) is only £8m a year, and they must be paying serious wages to have poached all those established journalists from national papers.

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1 minute ago, sh#t waffle said:

Really not sure how this can possibly work without adverts long term. £40 per year, even with 200,000 UK subscribers (which seems seriously generous) is only £8m a year, and they must be paying serious wages to have poached all those established journalists from national papers.


You get all the US content as well, which doesn’t interest me at all but they might already have subscribers from the UK paying for the American sports content. 


Similarly with the UK sports content you could get a lot of other people around the world signing up for it. 


Maybe it won’t work over here but I’d imagine the US subscriptions will be subsiding it until it’s up and running. 

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Great news this, it shows that people are slowly but surely realising that clickbait isn't the way to make journalism pay, and that hopefully we'll get back to seeing in-depth, quality articles on all subjects. Here's hoping.  

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